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How much sympathy do we have for Macbeth as the play progresses?

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How much Sympathy do we have for Macbeth as the play Progresses? The sympathy that we have for Macbeth changes greatly as the play progresses. This is due mainly to the role that the other characters, mainly Lady Macbeth, play in influencing his thoughts and decisions. In some cases he seems powerless to stop a chain of events, like the witches prophecies, and at other times just to weak to resist the evil temptations. In this essay I will determine how and why our sympathy for Macbeth changes during the course of the play. Our first impressions of Macbeth are from the descriptions that we get of him from other characters at the beginning of the play. For example the captain calls him "Brave Macbeth," and talks about how his sword "smoked with bloody execution." Here we do not have so much sympathy for him as we do respect, he appears to us as a noble and valiant soldier, and if misfortune ever came his way, we would probably feel sorry for him. However this feeling of awe surrounding Macbeth changes when he meets the witches. The witches are the cause of much of our change of heart towards Macbeth. When Macbeth firsts meets the witches they give him three prophecies. The first two we know already to be true although Macbeth himself does not know that he is about to become Thane of Cawdor. The third prophecy is the one the makes Macbeth wonder, even more so, as moments later he finds out that he is Thane of Cawdor, as two of the three things that the witches said are true. ...read more.


He does everything entirely of his own freewill, Lady Macbeth really just keeps the idea alive in his mind and keeps him on track with what he originally intended to do. When Macbeth imagines the dagger leading him on to murder Duncan, he is avoiding making any conscious rational decision about the murder he is about to go through with. But while letting himself be led on by his imagination, he is aware of what he is doing is wrong. This is where Roman Polanski's film version of Macbeth can provide us with a clearer insight into why Macbeth goes through with the murder. As he comes into Duncan's chamber he seems to suddenly realise that what he is doing is wrong and begins to try and back away, but then Duncan wakes up and Macbeth is in a terrible situation, he is standing over the king with daggers in his hands and therefore has very little choice but to go through with the murder. He had already really given in to evil before killing Duncan, he had surrendered to his vision and entered the room with daggers in his hands, he kills Duncan to protect himself. The film version would then give Macbeth a clear reason to go through with the murder when it is apparent afterwards that he regrets it so much, he seems in no fit state of mind to be capable of murder before or after as he is in such indecision. ...read more.


The language used reflects his mood, very negative, bereft of hope, the picture of a candle being blown out and a lonely man playing to noone apart from himself in a deserted theatre. Finally Macbeth realises the frailty of his situation and resolves that he is going to at least take control over something, his own death, "Blow wind come wrack at least we'll die with harness on our back." He determines to die like the soldier he was at the beginning of the play, a bold and noble death. He has regained our sympathy, and we begin to slightly look up to him again. He has got back what he thought he had lost, but always had, the ability to choose at whichever point he could, and not simply carry on with evil deeds along the path to destruction. This idea is strengthened even more by the use of rhyming couplets. In conclusion, our sympathy for Macbeth reaches a multitude of levels throughout the play, perhaps peaking at the 'tomorrow' soliloquy and reaching an all time low during the murder of the Macduff's. What I am sure of however, is that he fully regains our sympathy at the end, dying as if he were the soldier we first heard of on the battlefield. He realises that he has not had full control over himself, that he let evil thoughts drive him. He is filled with a sense of bitterness, futility and meaninglessness, forcing him to throw himself at his enemies, as he believes that his life has become meaningless. ...read more.

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